10 Tishrei 5781 / Monday, September 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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HomeTorah PortionStories from the Baal Shem TovA Canopy of Fire - Shemini
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A Canopy of Fire - Shemini    

A Canopy of Fire - Shemini

But when she entered the hall, she saw them still dancing in a circle with flames of fire burning above their heads in the shape of a circular canopy…


Parshat Shemini 
The Torah portion reads, "A fire came forth from before God and consumed what was on the altar: the burnt offering and the fats. All the people saw and they raised their voices in praise" (Vayikra 9:24).
* * *
It was Simchat Torah at the synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov. After the evening, Yom Tov (holyday) prayers, the Chassidim left the synagogue to eat the special Yom Tov dinner and then returned to join their Rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov, in the festivities. They gathered in the study hall of the synagogue and danced and whirled and twirled around in a circle for many hours while they passed the Sefer Torahs from one to another, sang the traditional Simchat Torah songs, and drank lots of wine.
By early morning, the faithful were feeling very b'simchah (joyful) and some even a little shicher (drunk). They begged the shammos (synagogue caretaker) to bring up more wine from the Baal Shem Tov's wine cellar.
When Chana, the Baal Shem Tov's wife, heard the commotion from the study hall and the Chassidim pleading with the Shammos caretaker to bring up more wine from the wine cellar, she became worried that there wouldn't be enough wine left for making the blessing over Kiddush and Havdalah (brief ceremony to separate the weekdays from the Sabbath or Holy days). So, she quickly went into the private study of her husband, the Baal Shem Tov, and requested of him, "Israel, go into the study hall and tell your Chassidim to stop drinking and dancing because you won't have enough wine for making Kiddush and Havdalah.
The Baal Shem Tov chuckled and said, "Chana, I agree. Would you please tell them to stop and go home?"
She immediately went into the study hall to give the Chassidim the message from the Rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov. But when she entered the hall, she saw them still dancing in a circle with flames of fire burning above their heads in the shape of a circular canopy. She immediately collected the empty wine containers scattered around the hall, went down to the wine cellar to refill them, and brought them back to the dancing Chassidim.
A while later, when saw her husband, the Baal Shem Tov inquired, "So Chana, did you tell them to go home?" Chana answered, "Next time, Israel, it might be better if you tell them yourself."
And so it was.

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